Looking great in gold

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As the Technology & Maintenance Council turns 50 this year, it’s only fitting to look back at the birth and development of this dynamic organization.

It all started in 1956, when members of the Regular Common Carrier Conference decided to create a standing committee dedicated to the improvement of equipment and its maintenance. They had their first meeting that year, and hired their first staff engineer the next. The Private Truck Council of America joined the activities in 1966, and the committee was becoming a force to be reckoned with.

“That took some guts,” notes TMC’s technical director, Robert Braswell. “Trucks built back then weren’t very good, and here was a group of fleet guys who thought they could make a difference.” Since then, the committee – which became The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) – has made a world of difference in the way trucks are made and maintained. Consider some milestones:

  • 1970 – Spearheaded development of the Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards (VMRS).
  • 1973 – Approved first Recommended Practice under S.1 Electrical & Instruments Study Group.
  • 1975 – Published first Recommended Maintenance Practices Manual.
  • 1978 – With the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) jointly issued the Type I Fuel Test, the first in a series of what would become industry-standard methods for measuring fuel economy accurately.
  • 1979 – Published first Maintenance Manager magazine.
  • 1983 – Launched its Tomorrow’s Truck Program, which spawned a series of SAE technical papers to help vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers understand how future products could be improved for users.
  • 1984 – Held its first Transportation Equipment Exhibition, which remains the premier North American equipment venue for fleet operators.
  • 1985 – Published first Tire and Wheel Failure Analysis.
  • 1985 – Published first Maintenance newsletter.
  • 1987 – Released first maintenance training video.
  • 1990 – Developed, with SAE, J1587/1708 onboard communication standards, allowing for adoption of uniform electronic data protocol and physical connection points.
  • 1995 – Held an industrywide forum in Washington, D.C. to address ABS rulemaking. Through TMC input, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration amended its rulemaking and allowed the industry to develop a technical solution for ABS signal communication from trailer to tractor.
  • 1997 – Established the Recommended Engineering Practices category.
  • 1999 – Assumed management of VMRS, and introduced VMRS 2000.
  • 2001 – Addressed onboard and offboard technology by absorbing the activities of the former ATA Information Technology & Logistics Council, and changing its name to the Technology & Maintenance Council.
  • 2004 – Launched the Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC), and signed a cooperative research and development agreement with U.S. Army National Automotive Center and Aberdeen Test Center.
  • 2005 – Held TMCSuperTech2005, its first national technicians skills competition. Also, “Tech Talk with TMC” was launched as a regular segment on XM Satellite Radio.

Over the years, TMC has been proactive in encouraging professional excellence with much-coveted awards, and has even established a scholarship program for future engineers and fleet managers. But as TMC looks to the future, PTDC and the XM radio deal appear to have enormous potential.

“PTDC will revolutionize TMC,” asserts Braswell. “It brings long-overdue recognition to technicians. And XM allows us to reach people we never could have. It’s an exciting time.”